Naval Rules of Engagement

Management Tools for Crisis

by Bradd C. Hayes

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Part of a larger project aimed at contributing to understanding how crises escalate to conventional and nuclear conflict, and at identifying measures to inhibit or control escalation, this Note explores the benefits and limitations of one tool for managing conflict — rules of engagement (ROE). ROE are command mechanisms vital to crossing the thresholds of escalation along the spectrum of conflict. The author draws on his experience as a naval officer and on the application of naval ROE in the Persian Gulf. His analysis suggests that although ROE provide the framework within which the use of force is managed, other factors play a significant role in the decision process leading to the use of force. Perceptions, as much as actions, determine where and when a commander will decide to use ROE. Nevertheless, understanding the ROE framework is vital to understanding crisis management.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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